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Ethiopia judiciary, legislature target ethnic separatists: HRW report

[JURIST] Ethiopian human rights practices in the eastern Ogaden region have come under attack in a new report [text, PDF; press release] from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], made public Thursday. The report details atrocities committed by both the Ethiopian military and the ethnic Somali group the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) [official website], who are seeking independence for the Ogaden region. It outlines the failures of the Ethiopian judiciary to provide protection for those subject to government detention or mistreatment due to corruption, insufficient capacity, and the supremacy of federal security forces over the judiciary. HRW also criticized the regional parliament's collectivization of punishment against people and communities suspected of involvement with the ONLF. HRW alleges that the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian military amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and called on the UN Security Council to urge Ethiopia to conduct a "thorough, transparent, and independent investigation" into the alleged abuses. AFP has more.

Thursday's HRW report adds to recent criticism of Ethiopia's human rights record. In October 2007, the US House of Representatives passed the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (H.R. 2003) [text; JURIST commentary], aimed in part at encouraging the human rights situation in Ethiopia. The bill is currently before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In July 2007, HRW accused Ethiopian troops of violating international humanitarian law [JURIST report] by burning homes and forcibly relocating civilians in Ogaden. In March 2007, HRW also accused Ethiopia of complicity with the US and Kenya in secretly detaining Somalis [JURIST report] accused of being Islamic militants. Ethiopia had admitted [JURIST report] in April 2007 that it detained terror suspects but denied that the detentions were secret.

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